Are low-cost airlines flying into a storm?

US legislators have joined consumer rights groups in criticizing new charges levied by low-cost airlines, raising the possibility of a confrontation with budget carriers as public opinion turns.

Spirit Airlines' decision to charge passengers up to $45 for hand luggage taken onto a flight, which some fear could spread to other airlines, drew condemnation from US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who branded the charge "outrageous".

"We're gonna hold the airline's feet to the fire on this," said LaHood in an interview with travel site Elliott.org. "I think it's a bit outrageous that an airline is going to charge someone to carry on a bag and put it in the overhead. And I've told our people to try and figure out a way to mitigate that."

New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer has also said that he will attempt to introduce legislation to block the move by Spirit. In an email on April 11, Schumer called the move a "slap in the face to travelers."

Discontent is growing on both sides of the Atlantic. On April 6, British consumer group Which? accused budget airline Ryanair of cashing in on summer travelers by raising its checked bag fees by one third during the peak July and August travel period, warning that flying with Ryanair "is not always as cheap as it first appears."

"Ryanair might claim that they are incentivising people to travel light, but we think it is more a case of penalising those families who can only go away on holiday during this time, said Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Holiday.

In a recent interview in Stockholm, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary branded a Swedish consumer rights group a "bunch of idiots" for ordering Ryanair to compensate a family who were reportedly left stranded when the aircraft they were booked to depart on landed in a different airport, nearly 40 km away.

PR-savvy O'Leary then fuelled the fire by saying that Ryanair had not ruled out charging passengers to use the bathroom on flights. FlyersRights.org, an airline consumer organization, called for the US Congress to ban both Spirit's carry-on charges and toilet fees, such as those proposed by Ryanair, immediately.

"The commercial airlines have reached a new low by attempting to charge passengers for the right to place their luggage in the overhead bins," said Flyers Rights President and Founder, Kate Hanni. "It seems they will continue try and squeeze out every dollar they can from passengers, regardless of economic hardship, inconvenience or humiliation."

Low-cost airlines make a large percentage of their profits through "ancillary charges," which allows them to reduce the price of a basic ticket. However, the mood of the public now appears to be shifting against such charges - less than 10 percent of respondents to a recent poll on TripAdvisor said that they would be willing to pay for carry-on luggage.

http://www.elliott.org/
http://www.which.co.uk/
http://www.flyersrights.org/

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas